I was invited out for dinner to Contra by a fashionista food critic and blogger. I was really excited. The restaurant is located in the Lower East Side and offers a dinner-only fixed-price menu featuring interesting local and seasonal ingredients. We had a 6pm reservation and were seated promptly. They even let us choose the table closest to the kitchen with no problems.
The dining area was filled with earthy tones and lined with wooden tables. It was relaxed and casual.
The 6-course tasting menu started off with an amuse-bouche of a savory tart topped with crème fraîche, trout roe, caramelized onion, and yka leaf.
It was a yummy way to start the meal. I really liked the different textures you had in the single bite and it had good flavors as well. Salty, creamy, savory, crunchy.
We ordered a couple cocktails and they were great at recommending them. I just said that I prefer something made with vodka and I was given a tasty refreshing cocktail.
The first course was gorgeous. It was raw scallop, Maine uni, scallop roe shavings, nasturtium, and leche de tigre. Nasturtium is a plant whose leaves and flowers are edible. Leche de Tigre is the Peruvian term for the citrus-based marinade that cures the seafood in a ceviche.
The colorful dish was delicious. The scallops were super tender and the uni added a touch of salt.
The nice waitress explained every dish to us with a smile. She did not mind repeating some of the ingredients either.
The second course was squid, morel mushrooms, and white asparagus topped with mint and lardo.
Lardo is a type of salumi made by curing strips of fatback with rosemary and other herbs and spices. It added a savory richness to the dish. Lardo makes everything better!
The third course was baked filet of cod with celery, green garlic sabayon, and wild wood sorrel.
The cod was tender. Sabayon is usually a light, mousse-like Italian dessert that’s made by whisking eggs, sugar and white wine, but this was a more savory one made with green garlic.
We asked for a good wine recommendation for our next couple of courses and they delivered with a nice red.
The fourth course was Sasso chicken, charred spring onion, red miner’s lettuce, tarragon, dandelion greens, shepherd’s purse, green olives, and an anchovy emulsion.
Shepherd’s purse are triangular, purse-like pods that belong to the mustard family. It is native to eastern Europe and Asia minor, but is naturalized and considered a common weed in many parts of the world.
The chicken skin was so crispy and the meat was very tender. This was probably my favorite dish.
After the wonderful chicken, we were then asked if we wanted the cheese course. Sure! It was Tubby cheese from Vermont’s Spring Brook Farm that was aged in Brooklyn and served with wild flower honey and salt. Good stuff.
It was time for dessert. The fifth course was a pear compote, pear curd, mandarin orange, vanilla parfait, and bourbon shortbread cookie. It was not too sweet.
I asked for a wine to enjoy with the dessert and was served a sparkling white wine from Loire, France.
The final course was banana ice cream, rye cake, rye chips, and raspberry powder. It was served with a cassis semifreddo with vanilla and honey.
I am not a big fan of banana flavored anything, but I enjoyed this. The raspberry powder made every bite slightly tart and refreshing.
The cassis semifreddo was creamy and tart. The honey and vanilla added some sweetness to the semi-frozen dessert.
The food was great. I especially enjoyed the chicken and scallop courses. The service was friendly. The wine and cocktail recommendations were on point. The pace of the courses was just fine. You definitely don’t feel rushed. Oh and the tasting menu is a fantastic value at $67!
I would definitely come back to try a different menu. A big thank you to Cutie Patroller for inviting me out for this lovely meal! 🙂
138 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002